I don’t think we should try to erase history but rather try to see it as it actually was. There will be different reactions to monuments and art depicting history. Some will see a glorious and romantic past while others will see subjugation and savagery. Perhaps some of the more offensive monuments (to some) can be placed more appropriately in museums, but they should not be destroyed. If nothing else, they can remind us of how far we’ve come from our having bought and sold human beings as property and that those who condoned it are still sore losers through their progeny a century and a half later and truly need to get over that loss and accept a modernity that includes everyone who obeys the laws we put into place for our collective safety.
History has witnessed shock, dismay, and horror at pieces of sculpture before that were too violent (The Rape of Persephone by Bernini), war monuments from both World wars, what were considered obscene statues and paintings in earlier times because of nudity. Who decides what should be demolished and what should not? The sensitive paintings of Shiller from the early 20th Century were condemned (along with other art by painters like Picasso) by the Nazis and burned along with books which the ruling powers decreed ugly and unfit for human sight.
The Margaret Mitchell past and stark reality are not, and can never be, the same, but we need to see them both and judge individually. Trying to eradicate history is, I believe, a mistake. We need reminders of the good and the bad to create an emotional and social sense of balance and truth. Time will show them to be exactly what they are from era to era as we become more enlightened in our quest to have more awareness and humanity. This is still America. Does anyone really believe that tearing down monuments (even ones depicting a flawed history) will improve race relations? Isn’t there already enough angst and resentment? I hope we can rethink our current rage and obsession with tearing things down and begin thinking about building things up instead….like tolerance and understanding. JB